It’s been four months since I first stuck the Nike+iPod sensor to my Saucony shoe and posted the results to this site. Since that time a lot things have happened in the Nike+iPod world. Not only have other people come up with some pretty clever and practical shoe-hacking methods of their own, but several commercial products have been released which were designed specifically for attaching the Nike+iPod sensor to any pair of running shoes. With so many shiny new iPod nanos and Sport Kits being sold this holiday season, I figured it was time to compile a guide to the options available for non-Nike+ shoe owners.
Do-It-Yourself “Shoe Hacks”
As I discovered when the Nike+iPod Kit was first released, the small orange and white sensor doesn’t need to be placed inside the special Nike+ shoe compartment to work properly. In fact, it doesn’t need to be inside the shoe at all. The only requirements are that the sensor is logo-side up, relatively horizontal, and tightly secured to the shoe.
The Podophile Method
My original solution was to attach the sensor under my laces near the toe with some velcro. See the complete instructions here. This method provides a tight, secure spot for the sensor to live, while keeping it easily removable and doing practically no damage to the shoe. On the downside, if not checked regularly the sensor may become loose and fall off the shoe. In addition, the sensor, being on the outside of the shoe, is exposed to the elements (though this can easily be fixed by placing the sensor in a small plastic bag or balloon).
Several people have emulated the Nike+ shoe design by cutting a sensor-sized hole into the permanent insole of their shoe with a Dremel or Xacto knife, then placing the sensor inside, and covering with the shoe’s removable insole. This method has the benefit of keeping the sensor safe and secure, but requires major surgery with the risk of damaging your shoe. Thanks to David Goulet for posting the photos… He’s a braver man than I. Larger pics are here, here, here, and here.
Another idea is to cut a small slit in the tongue of the shoe and place the sensor inside, sliding it down toward the toe. This method, like mine, secures the sensor under the laces and provides the added protection of the tongue fabric. But be careful that the sensor can’t slide around inside the tongue, as this will give you inaccurate readings. Also, with less padding between the sensor and your foot, you may actually feel the sensor, which could be uncomfortable.
Duct and Cover
Then there’s the old standby duct tape, which some have used to attach the sensor to their shoes. I think it’s probably best to make a pouch out of tape and then secure that to your laces, rather than just taping the sensor to your shoe, as moisture and the movement from running will loosen that tape pretty quickly. It’s not pretty, but it seems to work just fine. If you go this route make sure the sensor is tightly secured to the laces and doesn’t bounce around when you run.
The crafty blogger over at Yarn-A-Go-Go has posted instructions on knitting your own shoe pouch for the Nike+iPod Sport Kit sensor. It should be a pretty easy project for someone with basic knitting skills, and the finished product looks much better than most of the other popular “shoe hacks.”
The Sensor Cozy
My favorite DIY method comes from Web Goddess, who made a simple fabric tube, placed the sensor inside, threaded it under her shoe laces, folded the ends of the fabric over the top, and attached them with velcro. It’s really a great solution that provides protection and a snug fit for the sensor, is easily removable, and doesn’t damage the shoe. Of course, to make one of these you’re going to need some craft skills.
Once it was shown that the Nike+iPod sensor could be used with any pair of running shoes, people who weren’t inclined to “hack” their shoes started looking for existing products which would attach the sensor to their shoe. And it wasn’t long before several new products, designed specifically the task, were announced. Here they are, in the order of least to most expensive:
This finger-sized neoprene case was made to hold two USB flash drives, but it turns out that its just the right size for the Nike+iPod sensor. One end of the case slides down under your shoe laces, while the other folds over and attaches with velcro. It provides a snug ride for the sensor, and the velcro holds pretty well, though I’d be tempted to add a little extra if I used this every day.
The LaceLid a simple hard rubber “cap” which fits over the Nike+iPod sensor, and is attached to your shoe by running your laces through holes at the top and bottom. There are a couple of things to keep in mind: Because there’s only one lace hole on the top and bottom of the LaceLid, proper attachment does require you to lace your shoes differently than you may be used to. Also, the LaceLid is an open-topped cap rather than an enclosed case or pouch, so the sensor may not be completely protected from wet weather (though unless your feet are actually under water, it likely provides adequate protection). The LaceLid is a unique and affordable Nike+iPod shoe accessory.
The Shoe Pouch ($6)
Grantwood Technology designed this little neoprene pouch specifically for the Nike+iPod sensor. It attaches to your shoe by threading the laces through four loops on the corners of the pouch. This lacing method provides added security, but also makes the pouch more difficult to remove from your shoe than the velcro-based products. I’ve read some positive comments about people’s experiences with the Shoe Pouch, but keep in mind that the key to getting good results is making sure the pouch is tightly secured to your laces. All-in-all, the Shoe Pouch simple, no-frills solution at an attractive price point.
This neoprene “wallet” was designed to carry a runner’s keys, cash, and any other small items you might need on the trail. It attaches to the shoe via a plastic clip that slides between the the tongue and the laces. It makes a nice pouch for the Nike+iPod sensor, but is quite roomy, allowing the sensor to move and bounce around while running. Since this will give you inaccurate results, you should stuff some tissue or paper towels into the pouch to help keep the sensor snug. It may require some experimentation to get it right. Another issue is that over time, the shoe wallet’s clip can become loose, which might lead to the wallet falling off of your shoe. I’ve posted a lacing method that will prevent this from happening. It should be noted that there are other brands of shoe wallets on the market, but because the differences between them are minor, I won’t list them all here.
SwitchEasy RunAway ($8)
By far the most unique Nike+iPod sensor adapter, the RunAway features a hard plastic compartment for the sensor and plastic clip that twists to lock onto your shoelaces. Other innovative features include built-in power button access, and a slot to store your Nike+iPod receiver when not in use. I’ve seen comments about the twist-lock coming undone while running, which would certainly affect accuracy, but I’m not sure if this is a common problem or not. The Switcheasy RunAway comes in six colors.
This was the first product released specifically for the Nike+iPod sensor and uses velcro to attach the pouch to the outside of your shoe laces. Designed by Marware, one of the larger iPod accessory makers, the SportSuit Sensor+ is a very high-quality product, but I’ve read reports of people having difficulty attaching it to their laces tightly enough to prevent unwanted movement of the pouch. And as we know by now, a loose pouch or sensor will lead to inaccurate readings.
I’m always on the lookout for new and clever shoe hacks and sensor accessories. Post a comment below to let me know how you’ve attached the Nike+iPod sensor to your shoes.
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